Mayor: Money to hire new teachers won’t come from charter school budget
BY FRAN SPIELMAN AND LAUREN FITZPATRICK Staff Reporters July 25, 2012 3:58PM
Chicago Teachers Union protest before the School Board meeting at Chicago Board of Education Headquarters,125 S. Clark. Wednesday, July 25, 2012. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
Updated: August 27, 2012 11:13AM
For the second straight day, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday refused to say where he will find the $40 to $50 million needed to hire 477 teachers to staff his longer school day, but said it will not be at the expense of charter schools.
“Charters give parents choice on educational excellence,” he said. “Charters have multiple parents trying to get in. They don’t have enough seats. So, I’m committed to making sure parental choice stays in the system. That’s what you want. …. That’s not how we’re gonna get” the money to hire new teachers.
Pressed repeatedly on where he would find the money to hire 477 new teachers to staff the longer school day, Emanuel would only say his handpicked school board would “find the resources to achieve what we need to provide for our children” when it hammers out the rest of the teacher contract.
“We know what we have to achieve. We know what certain things cost. I remind you that when this first was originally talked about, people were talking about $300 million [to pay teachers for working a longer day]. Even some more. This piece costs about $40 million,” the mayor said.
“The remaining issues have a lot of costs associated with them. And we will negotiate through how we achieve that. It’s not unanswered. It’s knowing that other issues that are in the negotiation process that are still to be resolved have costs and savings that can help us achieve our education objective.”
Wednesday morning, as teachers in red CTU shirts rallied in front of school district headquarters, union vice president Jesse Sharkey pointed to the charters as a possible way to pay for the new hires.
“I don’t know where the board is going to get the money for hiring. I have some suggestions,” he said. “I would suggest that the big increase in funding — which the charter schools were not able to get through the state legislature, but which they turned around and got from CPS voluntarily — is something they might want to look at.”
Charter schools are run by private, nonprofit groups that are given more freedom and autonomy in budget and curriculum than other public schools, including the ability to hire non-union teachers.
Earlier this week, Emanuel’s handpicked school board put off a vote on a $5.7 billion budget that earmarks two percent pay raises for teachers and $76 million for charters, and drains every last penny of reserves to do it.
That prompted operators of some of Chicago’s most prominent charter networks — including the United Neighborhood Organization and Noble Street — to raise the red flag.
They’re afraid that money for bigger teachers raises will come from shrinking their piece of the pie.
Those fears were only heightened by Tuesday’s breakthrough agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union that could go a long way toward averting the city’s first teacher strike in 25 years.
It calls for hiring 477 teachers to staff the longer school day so elementary school teachers don’t have to work a minute longer and rearranging the high school day so teachers there only have to work 14 extra minutes.
Each elementary school should expect to get one of the hires, CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said, staffing elementary art, music and physical education. The new hires will come from a pool of teachers laid off since 2010 and give the CTU its long-sought recall of displaced members.
Sharkey called the 477 added teachers “a down payment or a start on helping our schools to staff up, allowing students to get a richer and broader curriculum.
“My concern is, it’s not enough,” he continued. “We have over 400 elementary schools, so it’s not a lot of staff.”
Negotiations between the unions and the district continue. At issue still are discipline and teacher evaluations.